He is standing a bit away from the front doors and ringing a bell. Each person he sees, near or far, he shouts to, "Merry Christmas". Like everyone I see, I avert my eyes and scurry past.
I leave the store having forgotten to get the cash back I'd planned to get because once in line I couldn't remember why I needed any. I knew there wasn't any point in just "having" some. Sweetheart would find it and he would need it more, not in the wishful thinking way, or the made-up kind of way but the real kind of way. So here I was back outside the door, without so much as a nickel, looking at the man and his bucket, and as usual remembering later what I'd wished I'd remembered sooner.
This time I looked at him.
"I'm so sorry. I meant to get some cash. I don't even have a dime or a quarter in my purse." But to be sure, I looked, I stood there moving everything around hoping that something would materialize. He kept ringing his bell and looked at me and smiled.
"We take blessings too. Most people don't know we take blessings too, most people just walk past and don't say 'nuthin so I can't tell 'em."
I think how I'd just walked past and said 'nuthin. I think how I'd looked at him and immediately gotten caught up in the thinking of everything I couldn't give, didn't have or what was expected of me. When all I needed to do was say Merry Christmas and let him give me his gift.
"Thank you for telling me, thank you for reminding me. Bless you, bless you for what you are doing and bless you in the days to come. Merry Christmas."
I touch his shoulder, look him in the eye and smile.
As I drive out of the parking lot I watch the people flooding in and out of the store doors and I listen for someone to return his Merry Christmas. I don't hear a single one.
Sweetheart said yesterday everywhere he drove people were in a hurry and just plain mad, they were in a hurry so that later when they weren't, they could stop and say, "Merry Christmas" and by then maybe mean it.
Today I have been reminded of the simple, the important, the moment, of the need to slow it down, look and listen for the stranger bearing merry and bearing blessings.
Today I have been reminded that
"We all take blessings too."